Syria Faces A New Economic Reality – By Ehsani

Syria Faces A New Economic Reality
By Ehsani for Syria Comment
Sept 26, 2011

The recently announced import suspension prohibits the import of  all products that have a customs duty of over 5 percent. This notice also covers countries that Syria signed a free trade agreement with (Turkey, Ukraine and the Arab countries for example).  The original signed free trade agreements will no longer be fully adhered to.

As expected, the Ministry did issue a list of products which received an exemption from the ruling.  There are 51 items on this list. The first 17 are of the food products variety like meat, fish, cashew nuts, almonds and bananas.  Some of the details on the list are mind-bogglingly trivial.  The type of fish that was exempted from the ban for example was sword fish which made it to item number 5. Fish (with teeth) from the south pole or Australia also made it to the exemption list at number 6. But the sword fish were dropped again in item 7 which allowed all fish other than sword fish or those from the south pole and Australia.

The rest of the items are mostly medical in nature. Examples include x-ray machines, various Lab equipments, Dental chairs, and prescription and sun glasses.  The only vehicles allowed are buses for the local public transportation companies, fire and ambulance trucks as well as fork lifts. Mobile phones (current customs duty of 10%) were also exempt from the ruling.  This suspension is effective for all imports after September 22, 2011 (those who used a local bank prior to this date are exempt). Overall, the complexity of this ruling can only be appreciated when one delves into even more detail of what is banned and what is not.

The General Reaction to the Ruling:

The deputy Minister of the Economy and Trade was in Aleppo today. He was in a packed room of businessmen at the city’s Chamber of Commerce. Several passionate pleas were made to rethink the decision and to exempt more products. Many explained how they already have goods on the way and wondered what they would with them (they did not have an L/C open before September 22nd).  One wondered why cashew nuts were exempted when the U.S. used to be the largest supplier of this product (Vietnam and India are now the world’s largest exporters).  To every question, the deputy Minister’s response was to ask that they do so in writing and when the Ministry receives their written questions, it will study them in detail and see how they can help. To which one food importer responded that it would be too late as his goods are already at the border and by the time his letter reaches Damascus and be read he would have already thrown away his rotting produce.

One can read more about these shock waves hitting the Syrian business community. In the meantime, government has tried its best to argue that the decision has both pluses and minuses. On the minus side, the government is aware that prices of the recently banned items will rise rather significantly. Indeed, reports of price hikes close to 40 percent have already been reported on few electronic items while companies like Sony, Sharp and others have suspended their sales in the country altogether. While the government did not mention it, the other minus will stem from the fact that the grey market will now flourish as illicit trade fills the inevitable void that will develop. On the plus side, the Minister of the economy and trade has tried to argue that this decision will help local producers and employment. The argument appears logical at first. However, by referring to the measures as “temporary”, one fails to see how local producers will add to expensive capacity and hire new employees knowing that the decision can be reversed anytime. Local manufacturers are unlikely to invest in new machinery and equipment in this atmosphere. As it is, a number of industrialists have put expansion or new projects on hold over the last few years as the government has proved incapable of delivering sufficient electricity capacity.

Syria’s external Accounts undermined by its fixed exchange rate

This article argues that while the decision to suspend imports for these products appears to have been caused by the recent sanctions imposed by the US and EU, Syria’s external accounts were already being undercut by the fixed exchange rate policy that had encouraged imports and discouraged exports for years.  In the end, the authorities have found it expensive and difficult to finance the insatiable demand for foreign made products at the rate of SYP 47 to the dollar while revenues from oil production and exports fell steadily.

The 2012 Syrian Budget Rises by 59%

In addition to the pressure stemming from an imbalance in its foreign trade position, the other main problem in the economy comes from the government budgeting situation.  Just yesterday, the state increased its expenditures by 59 percent when it announced its new budget for 2012. The Social subsidies alone will amount to 29% percent (US$ 7.72) of all government expenditures . This means that one third out of every Dollar that the government spends will go to supporting a hugely expensive subsidy program that has spiraled out of control thanks to the country’s demographics and illicit trading (especially in mazot – fuel oil). How large is the budget and total government expenditures this year? The number is $US 26.5 billion or 50 per cent of total nominal GDP. This is an astoundingly high number.

Failure to Tax

The US$9.8 billion jump in expenditures this year needs to be funded by increased tax collection in a business environment that will be extremely challenging. One of the examples of an obvious and gaping hole in the government’s ability to collect taxes comes from custom duties on imports. While the government imposes duties close to 50% on many products, the 2009 government revenue from this area indicates that the treasury was only able to collect US$ 0.56 billion or 4.3% of the total value of goods imported. Following the recent sanctions on Syrian crude exports, it seems that the country was able to export around 110,000  barrels per day.  Revenues from such exports used to be in the range of  $3.0 billion. Given the recent sanctions and even when alternative buyers are found, it is expected that this can only take place after a hair cut is offered on the globally traded price. This is likely to further erode the government’s ability to earn much needed foreign exchange. It is possible that the difficulties of finding buyers will be such that talk of barter trades will soon be discussed. Iran already does this with its own crude exports. Indeed, this morning the Financial Times claims that Syria is unable to find any buyers for its oil (See Story below).

The pros and cons of a stable exchange rate:

Since the last currency crisis in the mid-1980, Syria has defined both political and economic success by the stability of its foreign exchange regime.   The central bank used the stability of its foreign exchange as the main metric of successful economic management.  This metric did not include economic growth, employment level or the balance of payments as targets. Stable exchange rate led to inflation stability and this is all that mattered to the economic planners.

In a flexible exchange regime, a loss of competitiveness or a widening trade imbalance usually results in a weaker currency which acts as self-correcting valve that restores the initial imbalances over time. Artificially fixed exchange rates deprive an economy from such a correcting mechanism. This is what happened in Syria. While this policy seemingly held imported inflation in check, it was causing significant damage to external accounts.  As the country adopted the new social market economy and import restrictions were lifted, an import orgy was now underway.  This was augmented by free trade agreements with the Arab world and later with Turkey.  Local producers who lived for decades under the comfortable protection of “himaye wataniye” were now under assault from a global market place that was more efficient and competitive than them.  It did not take long for Syrians to dump their manufacturing hats and transform themselves into importers. Throughout this worsening export/import imbalance, the currency value did not budge.  The Central Bank intervened at any sign of SYP weakness.

For Syria to continue to finance importers at the rate of SYP 47 to $1 dollar, it needed matching foreign currency receipts from its exports, remittances or tourism.  The hopes were high when it came to the latter two.  Thanks to a steady fall in oil production and exports however, the country’s ability to accumulate serious foreign currency was becoming harder to accomplish.  In spite of such trends, the foreign exchange regime was never modified to weaken the SYP to help make imports more expensive and/or to give local producers a much needed slight competitive advantage.

Proponents of the stable fixed Exchange rate regime pointed to stable inflation as the primary objective and how allowing the SYP to devalue will harm the economy. In reality, however, what transpired is that the government exhausted its ability to finance the country’s increasing appetite to import. Much has been discussed of the fact that the Central Bank sits on a comfortable foreign exchange reserve position of nearly US$ 18 billion. In reality, this number is impossible to verify. The official government data and accounting is simply not transparent enough to confirm such claims. More transparency is highly desirable in an effort to reduce speculation and rely on factual data during such a critical period. In the meantime, the only thing certain is that the government has decided to conserve on whatever foreign reserves it has at its disposal to prepare for an extremely challenging economic times in the period ahead.

News Round Up

Ban forces Syria to cut oil production – Financial Times

Syria has told foreign oil companies to cut production due to a backlog of crude that has filled its storage capacity because the government has been so far unable to bypass an embargo on crude oil exports imposed by the European Union.

Syria has sought to sell its oil to nations outside the EU, which before the ban imported around 95 per cent of the country’s output.

But industry executives and oil traders said the country had been so far unable to attract new
buyers in spite of offering discounts.

The failure has forced foreign oil companies to pump crude originally earmarked for export into storage. “There is a backlog of crude in the country,” said an industry executive.

“Storage is filling up,” the executive added, saying that some companies had been told to reduce output.

Gulfsands Petroleum, the London-listed company which operates in Syria, has cut its production by around 40 per cent at the request of the authorities. The company is now pumping about 14,500 barrels a day, down from about than 24,000 b/d in August.

Industry executives said other international oil companies operating in the country, which include Royal Dutch Shell, Total of France, and state-owned CNPC of China and ONGC of India, have also recently received orders to cut back.

Although international oil companies hope the cuts are temporary, and will end when Syria finds nations willing to take its crude, others see the drop lasting as long as the EU embargo remains.

Brussels imposed the oil ban in response to a crackdown by the regime of Bashar al-Assad on pro-democracy activists that
has seen more than 2,700 people die in the past six months.

Syria produced in August around 370,000 b/d of low quality crude oil, according to the International Energy Agency, the western countries’ oil watchdog.

The country exported around 150,000 b/d, with the rest consumed domestically. Germany and Italy accounted for roughly two-thirds of Syria’s oil exports last year.

Imad Moustapha, Syria’s ambassador to Washington, said in a recent interview with the Financial Times that the country would have no problem finding markets for its oil.

“It’s not that we are approaching people, it’s the other way around. We
are being approached,” he said.

But so far this month not a single cargo of Syrian crude oil has left the nation’s main export oil ports, according to shipping data. Several tenders of low quality, high sulphur Souedie crude, the country’s main export stream, have failed to attract any interest, traders said.

Oil traders said the impact of the EU ban on Syrian oil was wider than previously expected as international banks refused to open letters of credits – a common instrument used in trading – with Syrian entities, even when to destinations outside the EU. Tanker-owners were also reluctant to send their vessels to Syrian ports, they said.

The production losses compound the tight supply and demand balance in the Mediterranean and European region, home of four of the world’s 10 largest oil importing countries: Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

But the shortfall is not nearly as big as that created by the civil war in Libya, which produced before the start of the revolution 1.6m b/d of high quality, low sulphur crude oil.

Shell directed questions about production in Syria to the Damascus-based Al-Furat Petroleum Company, which could not be reached. Al-Furat is a joint venture between Syria’s state-owned General Petroleum Corporation, which controls a 50 per cent stake, Shell Oil and CNPC. Total did not responded to calls and e-mails.

Also from the FT, Syrian to look east for oil markets

Imad Moustapha, Damascus’s envoy in Washington, says the country will be able to offset the impact of western sanctions by looking east.

Mr Moustapha would not elaborate on which companies or countries had contacted his government but Syria’s bravado underlines the difficulty that western nations have in trying to inflict economic pain on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in a bid to make it stop its violent crackdown on six months of pro-democracy protests.

“It’s not that we are approaching people, it’s the other way around. We are being approached,” Mr Moustapha told the Financial Times. “But no contracts have been signed yet.”

The US has imposed repeated rounds of sanctions on the Syrian regime since the unrest began in March, most recently banning any US investment in Syria’s crucial energy sector and prohibiting US companies from buying Syrian oil.

The sanctions were mainly symbolic as the US has minimal involvement in Syria’s energy sector. But the European Union, which buys more than 90 per cent of Syria’s crude oil exports, followed suit with an oil embargo of its own.

The 27-member bloc, however, said members had until mid-November to stop importing oil, a grace period during which Syria could line up other buyers for its oil, thereby possibly limiting the immediate impact.

Mr Moustapha brushed off the American sanctions, saying the US had been taking such actions since the 1950s. But the European sanctions were a different story.

“Of course they are going to have a negative effect. They create a challenge for us to find a way to develop our economy and we are not denying that it will be a challenge,” he said.

Syria would be forced to shift its economic gaze eastward, Mr Moustapha said, just as Iran increasingly looked to China after chilling sanctions on its energy and financial sectors.

“We will re-orient our economy towards Asia, Africa and South America. We have a whole spectrum of options open to us,” he said.

Syria exports a heavy, sour crude oil called Souedie, chiefly to refiners in Germany, Italy, France and the Netherlands. Although it would be expensive to transport it beyond the Mediterranean Sea, both China and India have the technical capacity to refine this type of oil.

Ayham Kamel, a Middle East analyst at the Eurasia Group in Washington, said he would not be surprised if customers had been knocking on Syria’s door, looking to take advantage of the political situation to get a cheap de

Harvard website hacked by Syria protesters – BBC

Along with a picture of Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, the hacked home page showed a message saying the “Syrian Electronic Army Were Here”.

A further message made terror threats against the United States and criticised its opposition to the Assad regime.

Harvard said this has been the work of a “sophisticated individual or group”.

“The university’s homepage was compromised by an outside party this morning. We took down the site for several hours in order to restore it. The attack appears to have been the work of a sophisticated individual or group,” said a Harvard spokesman.

The website was hacked on Monday morning by what appeared to be sympathisers of President Assad of Syria, with a picture of the president in military uniform appearing in front of a Syrian flag.

This was linked to another image of Syrian national colours, with a message accusing the United States of involvement in the uprisings against President Assad.

Brief Note:

The Sarkozy story from the previous thread has elicited many responses questioning the accuracy of the report and why the story was published without investigating further into the claim. It is indeed the case that SC did not do more than link to the story as it appeared in Al Diyar. Another reader asked the source of the information behind Hotbird’s decision to stop carrying addunia. It was here.

Comments (1,388)

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1151. Revlon said:

1142. Dear zoo,
That’s what you meant by Personal Policy? I found that but I am sure there are many similar examples.
Example of a Comment section policy (The Long War Journal)”

Not really; I meant privacy policy not comment policy!
Thank you for your feedback.

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October 2nd, 2011, 11:33 am



JNA 1143

that actually did make me laugh out loud. fair post.

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October 2nd, 2011, 11:37 am


1153. Alex said:

Syrian Hamster … very smart and creative, as usual.

Revlon and others:

This is Joshua’s personal blog, not a private organization, and you linked to a Canadian law, this is an American blog.

In my own company’s site I do have a privacy statement. But this is not a company and it is not my blog or Ehsani’s. It is Joshua’s.

I want you to know that you always give up a bit of privacy every time you go online. When you give your credit card to some site selling a DVD, or when you leave a comment at some blog, and definitely when you are on Facebook that keeps sharing your personal information with more and more.

If you want to take zero chances … cancel your internet service and your iPhone or smart phone.

I was told that I should not use Yahoo mail because the Israelis have access to all information on Yahoo through their friends there. It reminds me when in the past, when we started having Israelis commenting on SC, some commentators left because they told us they now do not trust SC if their information is being passed to the Israelis!

Joshua, Ehsani, and I are here to help, not to benefit financially. A blog is an expense, not a money making machine. Over the years I paid the programmer thousands of dollars to build and maintain this blog. Joshua paid for hosting. You have a free platform to share your political views if you wish. No one can force you to participate.

If you enjoy being here and you don’t mind the fact that the programmer and Alex and Ehsani and Joshua and the previous admin and some American I do not know that Joshua added as admin all have access to your IP and the fake email that you provided (most here give us some kind of emails) then please stay. If you are not comfortable with that, then you should know that every single comment you left at ANY blog or site, you shared with one or more people at that blog or site your IP address.

I would be happy to add a privacy statement, but how can I ensure that Joshua and anyone else who is added by Joshua will abide by it? again, this is not my personal blog.

Normally, we only look at IP address when we need to moderate someone like Aboud who is trying to play IP games to post even though he is banned. I have no idea what is the IP of the vast majority of you here.

Many regime critics on this blog went to Syria the last two months and came back to tell us about it. (Observer?)

This has been going on since 2005 … we had regime critics here who went for summer vacations in Syria each year.

As for moderating options … the poll we have on top left column will tell us. So far it is for balanced to strong moderation. But it is too early, we’ll wait a week until many more readers vote. Thos eof you who complained about the wording being “vague”, there is no right and wrong wording and there is no way to be totally “clear” when you have 10 words to describe each option in that poll. So take it as a simple SMALL MEDIUM & LARGE when you buy a T-shirt … that is also vague, but people manage.

Finally, Ehsani will be the more frequent moderator and author here. I am working on other online projects at this time and will not always be available. You can see that all the posts so far are by Ehsani.

Every person is biased. If you are suggesting that a moderator here can only be fair if he or she is biased towards your view, like the previous moderator who was 100% biased, then I suggest you go and start a new blog that is as closed minded as you are.

Now we have two moderators who are moderately biased, one to each side. Sorry if we can not accommodate you 100% and upset the other half (or more) or readers who do not share your preferences.

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October 2nd, 2011, 11:39 am


1154. Revlon said:

1148. Dear Mina,
“Revlon, You use FB and you care about privacy?”

I keep my FB status, whether member or not, to myself!

“Don’t you know there are trials on the way because FB continues to collect your personal datas even after you log out? Come on… there is no such thing as privacy on the internet, full point”

I am aware of both Mina; the presence of legal framework for electronic exchange of personal information on the internet,as well as ongoing abuse of its loopholes.

Having a pivacy policy statement reassures the commentors of their right to legal recourse in case the policy was breached; Whether they persue their righ or not is their prerogative.

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October 2nd, 2011, 11:47 am


1155. Akbar Palace said:

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid;)

I was told that I should not use Yahoo mail because the Israelis have access to all information on Yahoo through their friends there. It reminds me when in the past, when we started having Israelis commenting on SC, some commentators left because they told us they now do not trust SC if their information is being passed to the Israelis!


Do you think any of the posters here should also worry about their email addresses falling into the hands of the Syrian government? I haven’t heard of anyone being hauled off to jail in Israel or the US for speaking out against their own government.

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October 2nd, 2011, 11:48 am


1156. Alex said:


As I said .. regime critics here have been going to Syria regularly and coming back with no one bothering them.

Pro regime commentators were also worried the previous admin was passing their emails or IP addresses to the revolution. There are “shame lists” on facebook for anyone who “defends the regime” and they hint that they will deal with them when the revolution succeeds.

As I said … we can be afraid of the Israelis, the regime, the revolution, the CIA or the Somalis. Each person has his own comfort level with risk in general. It is your personal choice, this is simply a blog. Don’t blog if you are worried about any of the above risks.

For your information .. Syria Comment was hacked many times the past few years and whoever hacked it obviously had access to IP addresses.

Again … your IP is not going to lead to your house. My friend Mona Eltahawy (American Egyptian journalist) once received a comment on her blog threatening her. She passed the IP to the FBI and they worked for weeks until they got the person who wrote that comment.

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October 2nd, 2011, 12:04 pm


1157. Akbar Palace said:

Syria Comment’s Selective Use of their Own Rules NewZ

1102. NK said:

Mr. (we were in the opposition before anyone else)

Here’s a reminder from 2007
ان سوريا لحافظها اسد

Dear Syrian Nationalists,

I urge you to participate in the Syrian referendum for President, cast your
“ YES ” vote for President Bashar Assad.

He demonstrated a great example of Syrian national courage, made Syrians stand tall and proud. Not only he stood solidly against the diabolically Jewish inspired Greater Middle East Zionist Project, but helped defeat it once and for all.

It was Zionist criminal Jew named Pelosi and other Jewish criminals that traveled to Damascus recently, confused, defeated and humiliated. It was Zionist Negro Rice that begged to meet our great Foreign Affair Minister Muallem in Sharm Al Sheikh, it was Christian Zionist Bush, the genocidal murderer of 700,000 innocent Moslems that relented and let go of his humiliating defeat, asking defeated Jew Olmert, who last summer was miserably defeated on the hand of much powerful and moral force, the Lebanese resistance fighters. Bush, is begging Olmert to go and make peace with Bashar Assad.


Sorry to bug you again, but I would like some clarification. Your rules (and Professor Josh’s) prohibit the following as stated on SC’s main page:

– Personal attacks against other contributors;

– Racist, sexist, obscene, or otherwise discriminatory or hateful language;

– Provocations designed to derail discussions away from substantive debate into dead-end arguments;

– Links to commercial sites or posting of commercial messages;

– Threats of death or violence;

When posters label other posters or personalities with the epithet “Jew” or “Zionist”, because they can’t seem to articulate a point, doesn’t that go against your rule against “Racist, sexist, obscene, or otherwise discriminatory or hateful language”?

I realize it may be hard to respond to all these posts, because it occurs here quite often.

BTW, “Zionist Negro Rice” and “Zionist criminal Jew named Pelosi” are both Christian:

BTW NK – Saddam Hussein killed at least an order of magnitude (ten times) more Arabs than Bush. If you are really interested, I’ll be happy to link some websites for you.

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October 2nd, 2011, 12:11 pm


1158. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

This was a great exercise in democracy for you, Alex.

I’m sure you didn’t expect the outrage that banning Aboud, caused. The general out roar here on SC forced you to debate your decision, explain your policy, and even announce a kind of referendum – poll (direct democracy). None of this would have happened if not the (relative) free speech in this blog.

I’m more than sure, that in the future, if you consider banning a commentator, you will think 18 times before doing so. Democracy changes the way governments (you, on SC) behave.

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October 2nd, 2011, 12:11 pm


1159. zoo said:


Thanks for your candid concerns. Point taken. I stick to me perception, until proven the contrary.

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October 2nd, 2011, 12:20 pm


1160. Alex said:


I have been designing discussion forums since 2005. I don’t think I just met democracy for the first time. My first forum, “The Syrian Think Tank” had the regime’s most extreme critic Ammar Abdel Hamid on top, because I believed in real debates, not because anyone forced me to.

Islam Comment has Wassim on top .. he is one of the smartest Islamists I know, I invited him adn placed his articles on top. Yet someone here decided that Islam Comment is anti Islam because there is ONE author (Elie Elhadj) who is against a role for Islam and religion in general in politics. The gentleman who decided that I hate Islam, did not bother to read that almost ALL the authors I invited wrote in support of building the mosque/Islamic center near ground Zero in NYC.

And did you notice that I do not come up with discussion topics on Islam Comment? … I built this page to let everyone enter a proposed topic and the site’s visitors to vote on which topic they would like us to cover. Again, how many others are doing that?

I am not the one who needs a lesson in democracy. It is the gentlemen here who can not tolerate my opinion or any opinion they disagree with … they would not allow Elie elHadj to speak if they were in charge on

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October 2nd, 2011, 12:20 pm


1161. Akbar Palae said:

The Syria Comment Freedom of Speech Website NewZ


Yes, it seems the greatest supporters of Assad and his autocratic regime live outside of Syria.

Eyze hafta’a?

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October 2nd, 2011, 12:23 pm


1162. uzair8 said:

A post from Shiachat posted today. I thought it was worth sharing:

i just watched some clips , bashar al asad supporters torturing some one and forcing him to say that bashar is his god then he spits at bashar and they start torturing him

also i heard bashar saying ” we do not use the tanks but we just got them to scare the terrorists”

and then i saw a clip of the army crushing a human with a tank while many watch.

Iran and hizbullah have to start talking and shouting and condemning otherwise they will be complicit and they will stain all of us with the blood of the people and the anger of a nation that will not forgive us.

we can not throw our religion out the window for the sake of some stupid alliances , this is how America and her allies work but we are claiming to be shias of Ali

imam Ali never turned a blind eye to any injustice

I heard news that some singers who were singing against bashar were also executed just for singing

So what if we loose the battle its better to loose the battle than to loose our religion

as imam hussain said:

death is better than doing the shameful
and doing the shameful is better than entering the hellfire

PS not sure of the last bit. May be a misquote by the poster.

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October 2nd, 2011, 12:27 pm


1163. Mango said:

1153. AKBAR PALACE said:
I haven’t heard of anyone being hauled off to jail in Israel or the US for speaking out against their own government.
لقضاء الاسرائيلي يفرض تعتيما على قضية اختطاف مهندس فلسطيني من اوكرانيا
فرض القضاء الاسرائيلي تعتيما على قضية اختفاء ضرار ابو سيسي المهندس الفلسطيني في اوكرانيا. وتتهم زوجته الاوكرانية جهاز الاستخبارات الاسرائيلي “الموساد” باختطافه في 19 شباط/فبراير الماضي.
وكررت محكمة اسرائيلية مطلع الاسبوع الجاري منع نشر اي معلومات حول الموضوع. كما رفضت المحكمة طلبا برفع التعتيم قدمته المنظمة الاسرائيلية للحقوق المدنية لكنها سمحت باطلاع الجمهور على المعلومات التي تنشر في الخارج.
من جهتها قالت الشرطة الاوكرانية يوم الخميس انها تحقق في اختفاء المهندس، الذي تقول اسرته انه اختطف من قطار في اوكرانيا ونقل الى اسرائيل حيث يقبع في سجن عسقلان.
وجاء في بيان لوزارة الداخلية الاوكرانية ان ضرار ابو سيسي البالغ من العمر 42 عاما اختفى الشهر الماضي “في ظروف غامضة” وان الشرطة تحاول تحديد مكانه الان.
من جانبهم رفض مسؤولون اسرائيليون التعليق مرجعين ذلك لامر قضائي يحظر ذلك، لكن مسؤولا في منظمة اسرائيلية لحقوق الانسان قال ان ابو سيسي محتجز في سجن في جنوب اسرائيل منذ 19 فبراير شباط.
وابو سيسي واحد من مديري محطة الطاقة الرئيسية في غزة التي تحكمها حركة حماس ولكن لا يعرف عنه أي ارتباط سياسي بالحركة.
وقالت اخته سوزان انها عرفت من اصدقاء ان 6 اشخاص احتجزوا ضرار واختطفوه من القطار الذي كان في طريقه من خاركوف الى كييف.
وأضافت الاخت التي تعيش في غزة ان شقيقها ذهب لاوكرانيا مع زوجته الاوكرانية وأولاده الستة للتقدم بطلب للحصول على الجنسية هناك.
وقالت ان زوجة اخيها الاوكرانية قدمت منذ ذلك الحين شكوى للسلطات الاوكرانية وأن ضرار كلف له محامي اسرائيلي، لكنه ممنوع من التحدث للصحفيين بموجب الحظر القضائي.
من جهته قال مصدر من حماس انه لدى الحركة معلومات تفيد بأن اسرائيل تحتجز ابو سيسي.
وقد طلبت الزوجة الاوكرانية للمهندس الفلسطيني من شرطة بلادها مساعدتها في “تحديد مكانه”، كما قال المتحدث باسم وزارة الداخلية الاوكرانية سيرغي بورلاكوف لوكالة فرانس برس.
وتعتقد فيرونيكا زوجة ابو سيسي ان المخابرات الاسرائيلية اختطفت زوجها، وفق ما جاء في الموقع الالكتروني للمركز الفلسطيني للاعلام، وطالبت بالافراج عنه، مضيفة انه مواطن فلسطيني حاصل على دكتوراه في الهندسة الكهربائية ويعمل في القطاع الخاص في محطة توليد الكهرباء في غزة ولا يوجد اي سبب لاعتقاله، مؤكدة عدم انتمائة الى اي طرف سياسي. الا انها اوضحت ان السبب الوحيد الذي قد يكون وراء هذا الاختطاف هو قيامه بتحويل توربينات محطة توليد الكهرباء لتصبح قادرة على العمل بالسولار المصري بدلا من الاسرائيلي.

حماس تعتبر اختطاف ابوسيسي انتهاكا للقانون الدولي
من جهتها طالبت حركة حماس السلطات الاوكرانية بالتحقيق بالموضوع ومعرفة ملابساته.
وقال سامي ابو زهري المتحدث باسم حركة حماس ان هذا الاختطاف انتهاك للقانون الدولي ولسيادة اوكرانيا ودليل اضافي على استخفاف الاحتلال بالمجتمع الدولي.
وحمل ابو زهري إسرائيل المسؤولية عن سلامته، مطالبا بالافراج عنه، داعيا اوكرانيا الى تحمل مسؤولياتها تجاه هذه الجريمة التي ارتكبت على راضيها.

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October 2nd, 2011, 12:27 pm


1164. Mina said:

How come Syria gets an expat opposition to compete with the opposition on the ground (same as Iraq 2003), while the US and KSA allies such as Bahrein and Yemen don’t?

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October 2nd, 2011, 12:29 pm


1165. Mango said:
“ميدان تحرير امريكي”.. اعتقال 700 متظاهر بعد احتلالهم جسر بروكلين بنيويورك
علنت الشرطة في مدينة نيويورك اعتقال اكثر من 700 متظاهر من “حركة
احتلال وول ستريت” بعد محاولتهم احتلال جسر بروكلين مساء السبت 1 اكتوبر/تشرين الاول. وقالت الشرطة ان المحتجين تسببوا في عرقلة حركة المرور، وإنه تم تحذير المتظاهرين بالبقاء على ممرات المشاة على الجسر قبل اعتقالهم.

وانطلقت المسيرة ظهر السبت من مخيم اقامته الحركة في حديقة خاصة بالقرب من موقع مركز التجارة العالمي وسط مانهاتن. وبحلول الليل قامت الشرطة باعتقال زهاء 400 شخص على جسر بروكلين بعد أن وجهت لهم تحذيرات بالالتزام بمسار المشاة، لكنهم تجاهلوا تلك التحذيرات.

هذا وقد ارتفع عدد المواطنين الامريكيين المعتصمين ضد “دكتاتورية وول ستريت” في حي مانهاتن منذ يوم 17 سبتمبر/أيلول ليبلغ الفي شخص.

وكان أكثر من ألف شخص قد قاموا بمسيرة إلى مقر قيادة الشرطة في مانهاتن يوم الجمعة للاحتجاج على اعتقال عدد من المعتصمين وعلى طريقة تعاملها مع الاحتجاج الذي تقوده حركة تطلق على نفسها اسم “احتلال وول ستريت”. وتتهم الحركة عناصر الشرطة باستخدام القوة المفرطة ضد المتظاهرين، وذلك على خلفية اعتقال زهاء مئة شخص واستخدام الشرطة لرذاذ الفلفل في محاولة لتفريق المتظاهرين الذين كانوا يعرقلون حركة المرور. وقد استخدم قائد للشرطة رذاذ الفلفل ضد اربعة نساء، وانتشر الفيديو على الانترنت، مما دعا الكثير من المتظاهرين بالتعهد بمواصلة الاحتجاجات لأجل غير مسمى، حسسبما ذكرت “بي بي سي”.

هذا وكانت مانهاتن شهدت تظاهرات حاشدة ضد وول ستريت في 17 سبتمبر/أيلول، وبعد ان منع المتظاهرين من الاقتراب من بعض المناطق القريبة من بورصة نيويورك، أقاموا مخيما بالقرب من موقع مركز التجارة العالمي للاحتجاج على النظام المالي الفاسد الذي لا يراعي الا مصالح الاغنياء على حساب المواطنين العاديين. واعرب المنظمون عن املهم في تحويل شارع وول ستريت الى “ميدان تحرير امريكي” على غرار ميدان التحرير في القاهرة في ثورة 25 يناير الماضي، كما داعوا 20 ألف شخص للتدفق إلى وول ستريت والاعتصام هناك لعدة شهور.

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October 2nd, 2011, 12:33 pm


1166. majedkhaldoun said:

Elli elhadge,is only anti islam, I challenged him to talk and criticise christianity on SC, he declined.

Mr. Burhan Ghalioun has enormous job,now,I think while he is in Turkey he ought to meet with Mr. Erdogan,and later with several head of state, he also should be careful about his safety, I understand that he will be active in this transitional period, and will not seek political job in the future,

Bashar and his supporters think that this revolution will end soon,they will be disappointed.

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October 2nd, 2011, 12:41 pm


1167. jad said:

استشهاد أستاذ جامعي و إصابة ابن مفتي الجمهورية في هجوم على طريق ادلب حلب

أقدم مسلحون مجهولون على قتل أستاذ جامعي و إصابة ابن مفتي الجمهورية في سورية بإطلاق نار على السيارة التي كانت تقلهما من جامعة خاصة على طريق ادلب حلب عصر اليوم الأحد.

وقال مصدر مطلع لسيريانيوز ” استشهد الدكتور محمد العمر الأستاذ الجامعي بالرصاص و أصيب سارية حسون نجل مفتي الجمهورية عندما استهدف مسلحون السيارة التي كانت تقلهما ” .

و أضاف المصدر ” المعطيات الأولية تشير إلى أن مسلحين أطلقوا النار على السيارة مما أدى إلى وفاة الأستاذ الجامعي على الفور و إصابة سارية حسون برصاصة في خاصرته وهو  يتلقى العلاج في المشفى “.

باسل ديوب – سيريانيوز – حلب

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October 2nd, 2011, 12:42 pm


1168. Tara said:

UZAIR8 @1159

Thank you for your post. We have a local example in our SC community. A great guy with a name of Mundas. He posts occasionally when traveling outside Syria. He is Shiaa and fully support the revolution. You can search his comment using the search function. His comments are pleasure to read. This revolution is not about sects. Syrian Shiaa like the rest of Syrians excluding the regime’s cronies are equally oppressed and do differentiate between right and wrong. They do not suffer from minorities’ complex disorder and know the Sunni Syrians for who they are.

Mundas, I hope you and family are all well.

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October 2nd, 2011, 12:45 pm


1169. uzair8 said:

The regime has everything to lose and is running out of time.

The revolutionaries have nothing to lose and all the time in the world.

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October 2nd, 2011, 12:49 pm


1170. jad said:

هيئة التنسيق الوطني: اجتماع اسطنبول لا يمثلنا
أعلن اليوم الأحد في مدينة اسطنبول التركية تأسيس المجلس الوطني السوري ليكون إطارا موحدا لأطياف المعارضة وممثلا لها في الداخل والخارج, فيما أعلن احد أعضاء هيئة التنسيق الوطني إن اجتماع اسطنبول لا يمثل المعارضة لان معارضة الداخل الممثلة بالهيئة لم يتم تمثيلها بالاجتماع.

وقال المعارض السوري برهان غليون في مؤتمر صحفي, لاعلان نتائج الاجتماع الاخير لقوى المعارضة السورية في اسطنبول, إن “المجلس الوطني السوري هو الاطار الموحد للمعارضة السورية في الداخل والخارج”.

واشار غليون الى ان “المجلس هو العنوان الرئيسي للثورة السورية، يعمل على تعبئة جميع فئات الشعب السوري وتوفير كل أنواع الدعم لأجل تقدم الثورة وتحقيق أهدافها لاسقاط النظام القائم بكل اركانه ورموزه”, لافتا الى أن “المجلس يسعى لبناء نظام مدني تعددي يساوي بين المواطنين جميعا دون تمييز”.

وقال غليون إن “المجلس يرفض اي تدخل خارجي يمس بالسيادة الوطنية السورية، ويطالب المنظمات والهيئات الدولية الانسانية بتحمل مسؤولياتها أمام الشعب السوري والعمل على حمايته من الحرب المعلنة عليه ووقف الجرائم والانتهاكات الخطيرة لحقوق الانسان التي يرتكبها النظام”, على حد تعبيره.

وكانت تقارير إعلامية أشارت إلى أن المجلس الوطني السوري بدأ منذ يوم الجمعة عقد اجتماعات مع عدة أحزاب هامة وشخصيات في المعارضة لتحديد تشكيلة الهيئات القيادية للمجلس في مدينة اسطنبول التركية.

وتتهم السلطات السورية معظم معارضي الخارج بـ”الارتهان للغرب” وتطبيق أجندات أجنبية بهدف ثني سوريا عن مواقفها في المنطقة، في حين تتهم هذه الحركات المعارضة النظام بـ”قتل” مدنيين منذ انطلاق الاحتجاجات آذار الماضي.

بالمقابل, قال عضو هيئة التنسيق الوطني للتغيير الديمقراطي حسين العودات في اتصال مع قناة روسيا اليوم” إن “توحيد المعارضة، ولو جزئيا، هو أمر مفيد”.

وأضاف العودات, احد قادة المعارضة في الداخل, “بالنسبة لاجتماع اسطنبول هو لا يمثل المعارضة، لأن معارضة الداخل ممثلة بهيئة التنسيق الوطني وهي تمثل 15 حزبا سوريا معارضا، اضافة الى شخصيات وطنية، لم يتم تمثيلها في اجتماع اسطنبول اصلا”.

وتضم الهيئة, التي أعلن عن تأسيسها أواخر حزيران الماضي, أحزاب التجمع اليسار السوري وحزب العمل الشيوعي وحزب الاتحاد الاشتراكي و11 حزبا كرديا, كما تضم الهيئة شخصيات معارضة من الداخل أبرزها حسن عبد العظيم، عبد العزيز الخير، رجا ناصر، ميشيل كيلو، حازم النهار، حسين العودات، محمد سيد رصاص، محمد منجونة، محمد قداح، محمود أوسي، محمود مرعي، مروى الغميان، مصفطى الشماط، منذر خدام، منصور الأتاسي، نقولا غنوم.

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October 2nd, 2011, 12:50 pm


1171. Alex said:


Do you know that Elie is 100% against the Syrian regime in this crisis?

If he hated Islam, he would have sided with “the minorities”, no?

I assure you he can’t stand any clergyman meddling in politics.

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October 2nd, 2011, 12:56 pm


1172. Akbar Palace said:

We can Bomb Mosques you Can’t

The gentleman who decided that I hate Islam, did not bother to read that almost ALL the authors I invited wrote in support of building the mosque/Islamic center near ground Zero in NYC.


While you support building mosques in someone else’s country in an area where nearly 3000 Americans lost their lives at the hand of muslim extremists, I find it a bit hypocritical that you support a regime that bombs mosques in Syria and screams “MB” or “salafi” at any one who speaks out against Assad.

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October 2nd, 2011, 12:56 pm


1173. zoo said:


Thanks for your candid concern. Just read your posts again and you’ll see what I mean about your classifications of commenters: Good Iranian/ Bad Iranian. Good Alawite/ Bad Alawite. Good Lebanese/bad Lebanese. Good Syrian-expat/ Bad Syrian-expat, Bad Peasants/Good Educated and the list goes on… They are evil only if they have opposing ideas to yours (Bush syndrome)

I continue to stick to my perception until proven the contrary.

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October 2nd, 2011, 12:58 pm


1174. Revlon said:

The regime’s symbolic retaliation from Turky for hosting the historic announcement of the SNC today; A 300 Kurds demonstration in Aleppo, chaperoned by Thug One’s forces and cheered for Ojalan!

Ugarit News | أوغاريت الإخبارية

أوغاريت || حلب :: منذ قليل ::
الأمن السوري يسمح للأكراد في حلب في حي الهلك بالقيام بمظاهرة تجمع فيها حوالي 300شاب وشابة يهتفون فيها بحياة (أوجلان ) المسؤل عن حزب ب ك ك الكردي والمعتقل في تركيا منذ سنين .

استمرت المظاهرة نصف ساعة واستعملوا فيها مكبرات الصوت وقاموا بالرقص فيها شبابا وشابات وإطلاق الشعارات الخاصة بهم .

كل ذلك تحت مرأى ومسمع من دوريات أجهزة الأمن والشرطة التي كانت بجانبهم ولم تمنعهم من كل ذلك بل قامت بحمايتهم .

وعلى العلم فلقد شهد حي الهلك وهو الحي ذو الأغلبية التركمانية عدة
مظاهرات مناهضة لنظام الأسد القمعي المتوحش منذ بداية الثورة السورية المباركة .

2 minutes ago

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October 2nd, 2011, 1:01 pm


1175. Husam said:


I am not the only gentlemen here who thinks you and your dinosaurs are anti-islamic. I have one simple question for you:

I understand fully and trust your Syrian Patriotism without a doubt. However why would, someone like you who is obviously not a Muslim (to say the very least), go at length to develop something called Islamcomment?

You state it is an open forum for debate but your project synopsis specifically states: “….non-specialist answers to questions relating to Islam” So how can it be so without a non-specialist (i.e. Islamic scholar)?

This is like saying we have a platform discussing a Nuclear Collider project without a PhD present in Nuclear science! Your advisory board save for the Rabbi have no background in theology whatsoever. It is funny you list a Rabbi but not a Sheikh on supposedly an Islamic site. Elhadj is a bigot and your hero… come on just say it.

I mean you are obviously a very busy man like many of us, you say you are not paid by the CIA or Bashar and don’t make money from all of this, so what gives?


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October 2nd, 2011, 1:03 pm


1176. majedkhaldoun said:

Alex said:

“Do you know that Elie is 100% against the Syrian regime in this crisis?”
Yes I do.

“If he hated Islam, he would have sided with “the minorities”, no”?
NO,you are assuming,
Haytham Khoury is christian,he is from minority,he is pro revolution.

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October 2nd, 2011, 1:04 pm


1177. Alex said:


If most of the authors I invited to debate issues on Islam Comment supported building the mosque, I am personally not for building that mosque, and not for building the new Church near my home in Montreal. This article is close to reflecting my opinion:

I pray to God before I go to sleep sometimes (not as an obligation, but when I feel I need to). I am not impressed with religious institutions in generals but I do not hate them.


Please read this part,


I did not imply that all minorities are with the regime, I implied that those who hate Islam (Hate is a serious state of mind) are not known to side with the revolution. Elie dislikes Islam (and other religions) but he HATES dictatorships.

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October 2nd, 2011, 1:11 pm


1178. Mango said:

1165. JAD
أقدم مسلحون مجهولون على قتل أستاذ جامعي و إصابة ابن مفتي الجمهورية في سورية بإطلاق نار على السيارة التي كانت تقلهما من جامعة خاصة على طريق ادلب حلب عصر اليوم الأحد.
وقال مصدر مطلع لسيريانيوز ” استشهد الدكتور محمد العمر الأستاذ الجامعي بالرصاص و أصيب سارية حسون نجل مفتي الجمهورية عندما استهدف مسلحون السيارة التي كانت تقلهما ” .

أبدا سيد جاد ! انهم ليسوا مجهولين كما ذكرت الوكالة ! انهم الأذرع المسلحة لحلف ( أمريكا + القاعدة ) كما يعتقد الكاتب نيكولاي ستاريكوف

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October 2nd, 2011, 1:13 pm


1180. Revlon said:

President of the SNC said:
The SNC urges all international bodies and organisation to:
– accept their responsibilities in protecting the Syrian people from the war decalred by the illegitimate regime and from the grave human rights violations
– by using all legitimate means, including the activation of applicable clauses of the international law.

In nutshel, no to unsolicited foreign intervention that breaches the SNC soverignty but yes if solicited/approved by the soverign SNC!

وقال غليون ان المجلس “يرفض اي تدخل خارجي يمس السيادة الوطنية”، ولكنه اكد انه “يطالب المنظمات والهيئات الدولية المعنية بتحمل مسؤولياتها تجاه الشعب والعمل على حمايته من الحرب المعلنة عليه ووقف الجرائم والانتهاكات الخطيرة لحقوق الانسان التي يرتكبها النظام اللاشرعي القائم، عبر كل الوسائل المشروعة ومنها تفعيل المواد القانونية في القانون الدولي”.

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October 2nd, 2011, 1:15 pm


1181. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

“……..A blog is an expense, not a money making machine……”

More than money expensive, it is time expensive. I can understand Landis motives in running it; it gave him a name in the field. But why Ihsani and Alex doing it for free, it shows how much they care about Syria, thanks for your efforts.

@Akbar palace. You want to talk to me you need to keep decorum, I am really getting tired of the filth on syriacomment, some of our wives and kids read this blog and complain a lot. I am always assaulted by my wife for the language used here in rebuttal. Sometime she says “I absolutely prohibit you from saying that”. So you will be on long list of IGNORE if you do not self moderate your language.

Yes we voted for President Assad and his Interior Minister said then that our votes are not valid. Will vote for Assad now and next decade as well, there exist no reliable team to take over Syria, and SNP primary interest is “Continuity of Syrian State” not “Continuity of Baathist State”. When a team or a coalition are ready in SNP view to administer Syria without taking risks on Civil war, economic collapse, social upheaval and so forth, will consider joining them even if they were devout enemies, if it will provides for that continuity. In any Coalition SNP must lead, that is a must because we need to insure that Syria is the next California Golden State within 5-7 years of the transition. We can do it. SNP can reach peace with Israel, strengthen ties with Iran and roll back Turkey without too much damage. We can accept a 50/50 split in Iskenderun, or like the Golan deal run by a Development Authority ruled by both Syrians and Turkmen. NATO would be the little mice in the corner, if SNP in position to carry some ministerial portfolio such as the Defense one, they would not come to turkey backing, France made a mistake and needs to help correct it. We have the technologies that can with 3 years send NATO back to the 16th century (comparatively), for a starter; we can electromagnetically immobilize their forces.

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October 2nd, 2011, 1:17 pm


1182. Husam said:

Alex said:

“… they would not allow Elie elHadj to speak if they were in charge on”.

But you did not allow Aboud to speak and banned him. Alex, I am sorry but this is double standard. You use the free speech card and withdraw it as it pleases you.

Your idol, Elhadj, spreads falsehoods about Islam, pitches misconcpetions, and disrespected and insulted many of us. Did you ban him? When I called upon you, you IGNORED ME. He called me all kinds, even labelled be an Islamist just because I disagreed with him. So your unconditional love and support for a Muslim-basher-hater makes you what?

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October 2nd, 2011, 1:20 pm


1183. Alex said:

Thank you SNP. It is time consuming, but it is also rewarding for some reason!


1) Aboud is allowed to speak just like Elie was allowed to speak … until they use profanity or violence.

I could have banned Aboud at any time … I always was one of the admins of SC since 2005. Aboud was allowed to speak many times each day. He will be back in 5 days.

2) Elie is not my idol, I find him too extreme in his views. But he is a brilliant man and he researches his topics well. Currently he and I do not speak if that makes you better understand that I am now defending someone I disagree with greatly.

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October 2nd, 2011, 1:27 pm


1184. zoo said:


It is very healthy that the local political opposition leaders that have been apathetic since the beginning on the uprising is starting to react seeing that the Turkey group supported by pro-Israel western countries are hijacking the revolution.
I hope they become more vocal and organized and starts a serious dialog with the government who share the same rejection of this ‘foreign made’ opposition group.
In any case I have lots of doubts about that “Council” in Turkey that has little credibility inside Syria.
If they hope to emulate the Libyan council, they’ll need plenty of defections both in the Syrian Government and the army.
Until now there is only the mysterious Adnan Bakkour who is supposed to have escaped in a foreign country but who is still totally silent or silenced? In the army, the number of defections are controversial (hundreds to 10,000) Yet Harmoush defected from the defectors, Rastan fell and there are rumours about ‘General’ Al Assaad’s whereabouts.
Turkey’s support for the Council is now at its peak, but with the increased internal and foreign problems Turkey is facing I doubt they will continue their antagonism with Syria. They have a lot to loose, economically and strategically. The Turkish press is very silent about Syria. Iran has reiterated its support for reforms in Syria and rejected the interference of foreign powers.

I think time may play in favor of the Syrian government. The new importation laws has created protests from businessmen but it has died off, for now. I guess most businessmen know they will have to squeeze their belt but until now they seem to be willing to do it.

If the Government starts the implementation of the reforms within the month of grace that the UNSC may give it, they will cut the grass under the Turkey Council’s feet as these have the same reforms in mind but without Bashar Al Assad.
The next month is crucial for both sides.

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October 2nd, 2011, 1:31 pm


1185. Louai said:

now the main problem in Syria is Alex so every one trying to discuss him? get over it ,he dose not support the revolution and aboud deserve to be banned for using bad language you know it and every one dose .

he was not the first one to be banned , no one made a big issue when SNK and others were banned

to Aboud if you are reading this comment , if i were you i would start a new blog as apparently you have a lot of fans .

all your attempt to harras Alex will not work hopefully ,i personally like the fact that Alex and Ehsani do not share the same point of view ,i share Alex’s point of view but i do respect and admire Ehsani’s way of expressing himself, very civilized and balanced , let us all learn from him .

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October 2nd, 2011, 1:31 pm


1186. Husam said:


I am not interested in reading or participating in a Forum that has the bigot Elhadj (Wafa Sultan’s lover) as it’s #1 advisor.

Where are your scholars that you invite? Why are they not permanent advisors? I have Rabbi friends and Sheikh friends…which shiekh do you befriend or call upon? I am not talking about Wassim or so-called-self-proclaimed-experts, I am talking degrees bro. What are you guys afraid of?

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October 2nd, 2011, 1:31 pm


1187. Husam said:


Ok fine, but please believe me when I tell you I know you are a Syrian Patriot. Can you please just explain what satisfaction does Islamcomment give you?

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October 2nd, 2011, 1:37 pm


1188. Alex said:

Husam. At the time, there was great tension between the right in the US and American Muslims. I felt there is a need for a forum that is willing to present both views in an intelligent way. Everything else I read at the time was either totally pro Islam or anti Islam. Discussion forums were full of hate and paranoia.

Now that there is no friction there, you can see that I did not put much energy in that site for months. But it is there when there will be a need to have a relevant discussion.

The Rabbi is there because he is the director of the center for conflict resolution, not because he is a Rabbi. There are no priests or Shaikhs because the site has nothing to do with theology. It is about politics and culture and whatever questions are related Islam withing those two areas.

The whole advisory board are there because they support the site. None of them advised. I did most of the work and my good friend Elias Muhanna (Qifa Nabki) helped a lot too.

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October 2nd, 2011, 1:53 pm


1189. Abu Umar said:

1128. zoo said:

I wonder who planned the Iraq war with the Jewish Neocons and rode in on American tanks?! So much for mumaana from a sectarian hypocrite.

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October 2nd, 2011, 1:56 pm


1190. ann said:


Syria Opposition Forms Anti-Assad Transitional Council, Warns of Civil War

Oct 2, 2011 11:15 AM

Syrian activists formed a council to coordinate efforts to end President Bashar al-Assad’s rule and stop his deadly crackdown that has claimed more than 3,600 lives this year.

The so-called Syrian National Council will include the head of Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic political party banned in the country, as well as Kurdish and other groups, Burhan Ghaliun, a political sociologist at Paris’s Sorbonne University and member of the council, told reporters in Istanbul today. Assad’s crackdown on dissenters threatens the country with civil war, he said.

Syria’s opposition is following the path taken by Libya’s rebels, who formed a National Transitional Council during that country’s uprising. The NTC became the main governing authority in Libya in late August after seizing Tripoli, the capital, and ending the four-decade rule of Muammar Qaddafi. The Libyan and Syrian revolts were inspired by a wave of unrest that unseated Tunisia’s President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January and Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak the following month.

“It benefits everyone to establish a common platform for these leaderless groups, where there is uncertainty as to whether they have shared goals,” Soli Ozel, a professor of international relations and political science at Istanbul’s Bilgi University, said in a telephone interview. “It’s a good thing for them to unite under one roof.”

While the council rejects any outside intervention in Syria’s internal affairs, it seeks United Nations protection for the Syrian people, Ghaliun said.
Minorities ‘Scared’

Assad’s regime “stands today because minorities are rightfully scared about who will protect them if it falls,” said Ozel. “They are forming this council and will slowly seek to establish their credibility. We’ll see if they will gain the international community’s respect going forward.”

The council will have an executive panel of six or seven people, who will rotate chairmanship, said Basma Qadmani, another opposition figure. The head of the opposition council, which seeks to establish a democratic government, hasn’t been decided, Ghaliun said.

Assad’s crackdown has left more than 3,600 civilians dead since the protests began in March, according to Ammar Qurabi of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria. About 30,000 people have also been detained and 13,000 are still being held, he said. About 700 members of the state security forces have been killed in the uprising.
Draft Resolution

European nations on the UN Security Council on Sept. 29 circulated a fourth version of their draft resolution on Syria in a continuing bid to win Russia’s support. It deletes the word “sanctions,” instead threatening to adopt “targeted measures” in the event that Assad’s government doesn’t halt attacks on protesters. The text also drops a reference to possible referral of alleged crimes to the International Criminal Court and adds a line that “urges all sides to reject violence and extremism.”

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October 2nd, 2011, 2:04 pm


1191. NK said:

Akbar Palace

You do realize that in #1102 I was merely quoting what SNP posted back in 2007, right ?

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October 2nd, 2011, 2:10 pm


1192. ann said:

Pro-Assad forces regain rebel Syrian town: agency

Sat Oct 1, 2011 6:20pm

Syrian troops regained control of the central town of Rastan, the official news agency said on Saturday, after the most prolonged fighting between the army and insurgents in a six-month uprising.

“Calm and security have returned to Rastan after security police backed by army units entered the town and confronted the terrorist groups who have terrified its inhabitants,” the agency said.

The town was the scene of large protests demanding the removal of President Bashar al-Assad and had been under the control of army defectors and other insurgents in the last few weeks.

Government forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, moved on the town of 40,000, which lies 110 miles north of Damascus on the main highway to Aleppo, on Tuesday.

Local activists said that members of the Khaled bin al-Walid Battalion, the main defector unit defending Rastan, withdrew from the town after it came under tank shelling and heavy machine gun fire.

The battalion, named after the first Arab conqueror of Syria, was formed last month as defectors began to organize and mount guerrilla attacks against security forces and a pro-Assad militia, known ‘shabbiha’.

Assad is a member of Syria’s Alawite minority sect, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam that dominates the army, security apparatus and power structure in the mostly Sunni Muslim country of 20 million at the heart of the Middle East.

He has blamed the violence on armed gangs backed by foreign forces, and his officials say 700 police and soldiers have been killed, as well as 700 “mutineers.”

Activists and human rights campaigners say loyalist forces are killing an average of 10-20 civilians every day.

One of the activists told Reuters that Rastan remained sealed while “state media stage their version of events” but that at least 130 people, both insurgents and civilians, have been reported killed in the assault since Tuesday.

“The Khaled bin al-Walid battalion took a decision to withdraw from Rastan to spare the town further killings,” he said, adding that they included 12 insurgents from the Ali bin Abi Taleb brigade of defectors in the nearby region of Houla, across the Orontes river.

He said six loyalist soldiers were killed in attacks by the defectors in Houla on Saturday, and that troops later sealed the agricultural regional center and arrested 30 villagers.

Another activist said that troops and pro-Assad militiamen have occupied hospitals and clinics in Rastan and converted schools into detention centers now holding hundreds of villagers, in line with tactics used in assaults on numerous cities and towns across Syria.

An official statement said on Friday that seven soldiers and police were killed in a military operation against “terrorists” in Rastan. “The units responsible have inflicted big losses on the armed terrorist groups,” the statement said.

Rami Abdel-Rahman, head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said a force of 250 tanks was sent to Rastan.

The United Nations says Assad’s crackdown has killed 2,700 people since the mostly peaceful protests erupted in March, inspired by Arab revolts which have toppled three Arab rulers in North Africa and rattled leaders across the Middle East.

The United States and Europe have condemned what they described as brutality by the Syrian authorities and imposed sanctions on the country’s small but key oil sector.

The oil embargo, combined with a slump in tourism revenues and falls in foreign investment and trade, have pushed Damascus to take drastic steps to protect currency reserves.

Last week it barred most imports apart from basic goods and raw materials. It has also tried unsuccessfully to barter crude oil for badly needed fuel.


The United States, which had been trying to re-engage with Assad and loosen the close alliance he had with Iran before the outbreak of the unrest, has condemned the crackdown on protests and pushed for United Nations sanctions on Damascus.

Relations hit a new low on Thursday when Assad supporters threw stones and tomatoes at U.S. ambassador Robert Ford’s convoy as he visited an opposition figure in Damascus.

Ford and his party were uninjured but several embassy vehicles were damaged and Ford had to lock himself in an office to await help from Syrian security, U.S. officials said.

Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman summoned Syrian Ambassador Imad Moustapha to the State Department on Friday and “read the riot act about this incident,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

Syria, irked by Ford’s meetings with opposition figures, accused Washington of inciting violence and meddling in its affairs. Washington demanded that Syria take steps to protect U.S. diplomats.

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October 2nd, 2011, 2:26 pm


1193. agatha said:

To All
I don’t see the problems of some of you with rules and there implementation on this blog.
this is a private webside: so I agree that others make rules and imply them, I still have the freedom of choice – to read the blog or not / or even to participate on the discussion in consideration of this rules.

Dear Alex and other moderators,
thank you for giving me (and us) now the possibility to vote, I understand it as a democratic way of rulemaking on SC, therefor
I will VOTE!

And I hope for good discussions in futur, I mean fair argument-battles, playing the ball and not the man/woman!

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October 2nd, 2011, 2:29 pm


1194. Afram said:

منصور الأتاسي والدكتور نايف سلوم
DR;Nayef Saloum and Mansour Al-attasi

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October 2nd, 2011, 2:43 pm


1195. Haytham Khoury said:

الدكتور برهان غليون يعلن ولادة المجلس الوطني 2\10\

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October 2nd, 2011, 2:43 pm


1196. Haytham Khoury said:

دمشق تقرير مترجم للبي بي سي عن برزة 30 9 2011

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October 2nd, 2011, 2:48 pm


1197. Haytham Khoury said:

Dear Afram @1192:

I see that you are becoming anti-regime.



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October 2nd, 2011, 2:51 pm


1198. bronco said:

Syria warns US ambassador against meddling


The Associated Press

BEIRUT – U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford should stop meddling in Syrian affairs if he wants to avoid more ‘rotten eggs’ attacks in the future, a state-run Syrian newspaper warned on Sunday.

The Al Baath newspaper, a mouthpiece of the Syrian regime, accused Ford of supporting armed anti-government groups in Syria and said his meddling will not be tolerated.

Supporters of President Bashar Assad on Thursday pelted Ford , an outspoken critic of the Syrian regime’s brutal crackdown on the country’s six-month-old uprising , with eggs as he visited a prominent Syrian opposition figure in Damascus. He was trapped in the office for about three hours by the hostile pro-government protesters outside until Syrian security forces arrived to escort him out.

“If you want to avoid rotten eggs, you should advise your country to stop its blatant interference in Syrian affairs and its feverish efforts to seek sanctions against Syria from the U.N. Security Council,” the newspaper said.

Read more:

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October 2nd, 2011, 2:54 pm


1199. Haytham Khoury said:

نايف سلوم عضو اللجنة القيادية في تجمع اليسار الماركسي في سورية في حوار مفتوح مع القارئات والقراء حول: فهم واسباب -الثورة السياسية- السورية الراهن

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October 2nd, 2011, 2:55 pm


1200. Some guy no longer in damascus said:

Afram ,
Let’s hope they aren’t victims to the viciousness of the assadian sadists, and furthermore aren’t prone to the pathetic re-imprisonment najati tayara faced. Besho won’t listen to you, and he wouldn’t listen to any one even if he screamed it in his face. Trust us, we’ve been trying for 7 months now.

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October 2nd, 2011, 3:01 pm


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